Tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson has recently been featured in the press for his “Project Blueprint” approach to longevity and biological age results. In another article, we provide an in-depth analysis (click here). In this article, we provide a quick analysis.
If you read the recent Bloomberg article in which one of NOVOS’ Scientific Advisory Board members, Dr. George Church of Harvard Medical School, was cited about tech centimillionaire Bryan Johnson and his anti-aging efforts, you might be wondering whether it’s possible for the masses to reverse the clock on aging. You might also be wondering if he’s taking the right approach. The software entrepreneur, who founded payment processing company Braintree Payment Solutions, drew widespread attention after undertaking an overhaul of his personal health and wellness routine, dubbed Project Blueprint.
In this article, we’ll dig into the following topics (click to skip to a section):
What is Project Blueprint?
Project Blueprint is a rigorous regimen that includes dozens of pills daily, a team of over 30 doctors monitoring Bryan Johnson’s bodily functions, a strict diet of the same daily foods and only 1,977 calories per day, hour-long daily workouts, and a sleep routine that includes wearing blue-light-blocking glasses for two hours before bed. The goal is to reverse the aging process in each and every one of Johnson’s organs in an effort to regain the body of an 18-year-old. It’s also a massive undertaking that cost millions to get up and running and will require an investment of at least $2 million this year alone.
You don’t need to spend millions or go to extremes. You just need the right knowledge.
NOVOS differs from the Bryan Johnson Blueprint method in that we have demonstrated that the path to longevity does not require exorbitant amounts of money. It simply requires having the right knowledge, as provided on this blog and in NOVOS’ video content, and a desire to improve your lifestyle.
Consider that many people who pursue so-called anti-aging regimens, especially celebrities, are not improving their lifespans and health spans. They’re actually shortening them or increasing their risks for disease with therapies like HGH and TRT (both of which Johnson also takes). In contrast, NOVOS provides the best guidance via our team of world-renowned experts whose combined experience informs every ingredient we include in our supplement line and lifestyle advice we provide in our content, such as in our article 60 Top Tips to Live Longer, Doctor-Approved.
Let’s talk about results.
As NOVOS Founder Chris Mirabile openly shares on his website, SlowMyAge.com, he has reversed his biological age 6.5 times as much as Bryan Johnson, according to scientific epigenetic blood tests, independently run by and validated by the same scientific lab as Bryan Johnson’s without spending millions of dollars on tests or sacrificing his quality of life. In fact, the laboratory that ran the identical tests for both Chris Mirabile and Bryan Johnson commented about Chris’ results, stating “Quite frankly, we haven’t seen a score this good, but it is accurate.”
Bryan Johnson reduced his biological age by 2.5 years versus his chronological age — from 45 to 42.5, a 5.5% reduction; meanwhile, Chris Mirabile reduced his biological age by 13.6 years versus his chronological age — from 37.2 to 23.6, a 36.6% reduction.
And according to perhaps the most powerful and accurate of all epigenetic clock tests, the DunedinPACE clock, which measures one’s current rate of aging, the third-party lab reported that Chris is aging at 0.69 (31% slower than average), while Bryan Johnson is aging at 0.76 (24% slower than average). Many additional physiological aging measures further corroborate these results.
Other NOVOS customers who elected to submit their results to Bryan Johnson’s own Rejuvenation Olympics have achieved fantastic results as shared on his leaderboard. For example, NOVOS customer Julie Gibson Clark outranked Bryan by achieving a minus 19.8% biological age to chronological age and a slower pace of aging compared to Bryan’s result of minus 17.4%. When asked, Julie said she achieved these results by simply taking NOVOS Core and Boost, and generally following NOVOS’ lifestyle guidance.
Pros and Cons of Bryan Johnson’s Blueprint
Here’s a closer look at just a few of the noteworthy facts and stats mentioned in the Bloomberg article, along with our thoughts on why Bryan Johnson’s regime is not one we would recommend.
- Vegan diet. We at NOVOS acknowledge that Bryan Johnson’s diet is much better than the standard American diet; however, our research also shows that a vegan diet is not ideal for longevity, as evidenced across Blue Zones of supercentenarians, and also necessitates supplementation. Mediterranean diets, which include a moderate amount of fish and lean meats, are consistently shown in research to be the best diets for longevity and even mental health (R,R,R,R,R,R,R). Even better than that is the NOVOS Longevity Diet, which builds upon the Mediterranean diet and further optimizes it. Compared to Bryan’s approach, this allows for a lot more variety (which is beneficial for the microbiome), tasty meals, and the ability to be social with friends (being social is in itself an important dimension of being younger for longer (R)).
- Diet lacks diversity. Many of the ingredients in his diet are superfoods, including chlorella, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cocoa, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Yet, his standard diet of three meals lacks diversity, which is not ideal for the microbiome. However, for most people, incorporating these ingredients would be an upgrade. Here’s what we recommend:
- Extremely low body fat. Bryan Johnson’s body fat hovers around 5-6%. In one study of men aged 65 and older, very low body fat percentages were linked with an increased risk of death (R). Although we don’t yet know how these mortality findings apply to younger men and women, we would argue that Bryan’s extremely low body fat percentages do not constitute homeostasis and therefore would be nefarious in the short, medium, and long term.
Specifically, body fat levels and all cause mortality rates have a J-shaped curve, where going too low (likely, below the 6% threshold) is not ideal and can result in health risks ranging from hormonal imbalances, organ damage and decreased bone mineral density (R,R,R,R,R,R,R,R,R). The lower body fat percentage is nonetheless better than being overweight, but we would recommend adding a couple of percentage points to Bryan’s overall body fat percentage for him to be in the 8% to 10% range.
Further, some subcutaneous body fat can actually be a good thing, serving as a barrier against viruses and germs that can penetrate the skin, and producing hormones like adiponectin, which are found at high levels in centenarians.
- 1,977 calories a day. Bryan Johnson’s calorie intake is likely too low for his activity levels and basal metabolic rate. Although up to a 25% caloric deficit may reduce the risks for certain diseases and may even slow aging, Bryan is going beyond that 25% threshold. Considering his daily 60 minute exercise routine, which includes high intensity interval training (HIIT), and his basal metabolic rate based on his age, body weight and height, we calculate his caloric deficit to be approximately between 31% to 40% or greater, depending on his exercise intensity and if he’s moderately active for the remainder of the day. Our research shows that long-term calorically deprived diets to this extent can lead to poor mood or depression, low libido, fatigue, weaker bones, nutrient deficiencies, and other consequences.
Going just a little further on calorie restriction (men consuming 1,570 calories, but also significantly lower activity levels than Johnson), as demonstrated in the 1945 Minnesota Starvation Experiment, found that nearly all subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression, signs of social isolation and withdrawal, decline in concentration and judgment capabilities, reduced body temperature and basal metabolic rate, and even an instance of self mutilation. To say the least, this is not an area we advise people to experiment with. With that said, eating fewer calories than you crave each day is good, and being hypocaloric at a range that’s within the 25% threshold may also be good for longevity — but we don’t advise you to take it any further.
Unfortunately, despite all of this caloric sacrifice, Bryan Johnson is likely counteracting its potential benefits due to the hormones he takes. Specifically, as well-known longevity researcher, endocrinologist and geriatrician Dr. Nir Barzilai has shared, “animal models whose levels of hormones were maintained at caloric-restricted levels in isolation did not realize extended life spans. So far, the only decrease that’s known to make a difference in longevity is the decrease in growth hormones” (emphasis added).
- TRT (testosterone replacement therapy), DHEA, & HGH (human growth hormone). Dr. Barzilai has also stated, “Regardless of the hype, I can tell you with certainty that growth hormones do not grow your life span.”
Bryan Johnson seems to be able to maintain such low caloric levels due to an unhealthy cycle of disrupting his testosterone levels and then making up for it with testosterone patches, HGH and the steroid hormone DHEA. This is an unsustainable method and a simplistic view of biology in that abrogating testosterone and HGH as a result of caloric restriction interferes with other bodily functions, including signaling pathways — to such an extent that testosterone patches and HGH eventually cannot compensate for the lack of production.
While caloric restriction and fasting can be beneficial in terms of signaling hormonal and biological pathway changes, Bryan is likely counteracting those benefits by using testosterone patches, HGH and DHEA. And while these patches may initially make him feel young again, TRT is not good for lifespan and healthspan; nor is HGH.
- 17α-estradiol hormone. In contrast to androgens like TRT and DHEA, Bryan Johnson also includes 17α-estradiol in his stack. While 17α-estradiol, a steroidal estrogen hormone, has been found by the Interventions Testing Program (ITP) to extend lifespan in male mice, the efficacy and long term side effects in male humans – especially when combined with many other hormones (including androgens), prescriptions and supplements – are not known.
- Additional prescription drugs. In addition to testosterone replacement therapy, Bryan Johnson indicates he is using prescription drugs that include a diabetes drug, metformin (2,000 mg daily); another diabetes drug, acarbose (400 mg daily); and an immunosuppressant drug, rapamycin (13 mg) bi-weekly.
Each of these drugs is theorized to favorably impact human aging, based on animal studies and hints in human biology and outcomes. However, they are not yet proven and well understood in that context, and the combination of all four of the prescriptions (including TRT), at these high dosages, is uncharted territory, especially for someone with Bryan Johnson’s low body weight, high activity levels and low calorie intake.
For example, the acarbose dosage indicated for diabetics is 25 mg, up to 100 mg, every 8 hours, based on (high) blood glucose levels. Bryan Johnson’s dosage is 200 mg at a time, 400 mg daily, even with his low blood glucose levels. The metformin dosage is at the higher end of the range assigned to overweight diabetics with very high glucose levels, and the rapamycin dosage is more than 200-300% greater than the dosage typically used for off-label, experimental purposes.
Beyond the dosages are the overlapping biological pathways that these drugs have with one another, and with Bryan Johnson’s lifestyle (e.g., low calorie diet, intense physical exercise, supplements like spermidine, low body weight and fat, etc.). He is likely taking this too far, and then adding the androgenic hormones testosterone and DHEA to the mix sends simultaneous conflicting signals.
Ultimately, the dose makes the poison and more is not better. In our professional estimation, this approach is overly simplistic, where every drug that has purported longevity benefits is added to the routine at maximum dosage, without first comprehending the biology and dysergies (negative synergies) between them and one’s individual lifestyle and health situation. We caution against this highly experimental approach.
How do I slow down or reverse my age?
Then take some free tests. Complete the five-minute longevity assessment, which will provide you with a longevity score of your current lifestyle. Then, use FaceAge, our AI-powered tool that measures your facial age and skin health, powered by a data set of more than 12 million people’s photos. Consider this your starting data that you will look back on as you progress on your longevity journey.
If you’re an overachiever, consider purchasing NOVOS Age – the most powerful and complete biological age test available for consumers – which includes the DunedinPACE rate of aging clock, as well as additional measures: biological age and telomere length. Take this test at the beginning of your longevity journey, then again after 12 months.
Integrate our free, science-based advice on diet, sleep, supplementation, exercise, lifestyle, and longevity tech devices. And of course, if you want to improve and accelerate your results, consider using NOVOS supplements: Core (the foundational supplement) and Boost (for an added boost to Core).
Is it possible to slow down aging? Not only is it possible to slow down or even reverse the aging process, but it’s becoming more commonplace. As people delve deeper into information about their biological age, more and more of them are choosing to undertake new supplement and lifestyle routines to turn back the aging clock. With NOVOS as part of your daily wellness regimen, you can begin reversing aging sooner rather than later, without being rich or going to extremes. You can truly be younger for longer.